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Baker History Awards to Honor Locals

The Chattooga County Historical Society announces the fifth annual Robert S. Baker History Awards, named in honor of Chattooga’s distinguished historian. The 2018 banquet is scheduled for 6:00 p.m., Saturday, November 3, 2018 at the Family Life Center of the historic Summerville First Baptist Church.  The program will move along quickly.  Catering will again be by “Classic Fare” from Berry College.

Historical Society president Gene McGinnis said, “This is our most prestigious annual event and the highest honor the Historical Society gives.  We always have a good crowd and an entertaining program.  We invite anyone in the county who is interested in our history.  We promise you’ll enjoy it!”

Awards to be presented include a posthumous and a living category as well as a new award for Chattooga History Makers Mr. and Mrs. Baker, married 70 years, are expected to attend. The awards honor those who, like Bob Baker, have worked to preserve Chattooga County’s rich history.  

History Maker Award

Bobby Lee Cook, local trial lawyer who is known throughout the country, will be recognized for the attention his career has brought to Chattooga County.  Mr. Cook holds a very high acquittal rate, and he has represented clients from a wide spectrum of the famous, the infamous, and the unknown.  He touts Chattooga County as a wonderful place to live wherever he goes.  His late wife, June Hays Cook, served as a committee chair when the Historical Society was founded.

Living History Awards

The 2018 Living Historian Awards go to people who are still busy with their efforts to preserve our history.  

 Brenda and Michael Lanier will be recognized for their long years of service to historic preservation in Chattooga County.  Brenda Hogg Lanier has served for many years as co-editor of the Historical Society’s quarterly publication.  She has assembled what is likely one of the most extensive collections of historic Chattooga photographs in existence.  Her late husband, Mike, was a lively part of the Historical Society for many years.  Mike could be counted on for everything from scanning historic documents and ledgers to assembling an 1820s rope bed for the Couey House.

 Steve Strickland will also be honored.  Since serving on the constitution and bylaws committee in 1987, Strickland has served the board of the Historical Society continuously.  He served four years as president in the mid-1990s and has served as co-editor of the quarterly in subsequent years.  He has written numerous articles on a variety of topics.  He is well-versed on early Chattooga County history and genealogy and counts Bob Baker among his greatest friends and heroes.

Posthumous Awards

Mary Sturdivant Tookes was selected to receive one of the posthumous awards in 2018.  Mrs. Tookes was a significant help to Bob Baker in writing his excellent Chattooga: The Story of a County and Its People.  She had a vast knowledge of happenings in Summerville over her long life. Her oral history recordings preserve history of the African American community that would otherwise be lost.

Roy Force Cook will also be honored.  Mr. Cook was also of great assistance to Baker in writing his history.  He was a storehouse of information on early happenings in the Chattoogaville neighborhood.  His oral histories have been particularly valuable in understanding the reconstruction period.  He passed along accounts he had heard from eye witnesses to the mischief that went on in that end of the county in the 1870s—such as the murder of Jeff Johnson, one of the county’s early and most controversial characters.

Students Also Honored

McGinnis announced that historians from the county’s schools (Chattooga and Trion) will also be honored. Students are asked to submit essays on historic topics related to Chattooga County.  Essays must be submitted by October 26th for consideration.  Contact the Historical Society by email [address below] or through Facebook for additional information.

Historical Society program chair Reba Phillips Welch commented, “Whether or not you are able to attend, please consider sponsoring seats for our student honorees and parents or for others who might enjoy attending but who are unable to purchase a ticket.  Sponsored seats may be paid as tax deductible contributions to the Historical Society.

Tickets Now Available

 Seating is available from board members at numbers listed below.  Mrs. Welch continued, “Seating is limited so respond early!  Every effort will be made to honor seating requests that are made at the time of the ticket purchase. Consider sponsoring a table for family and friends.  Paper tickets will not be necessary for those who are on the paidlist.

 Reserve your seats today by email at or by contacting Reba Phillips Welch (770-427-1174), Steve Strickland (404-630-9249) or Gene McGinnis (706-857-7997).  Individual tickets are $25; couples are $45. Tables of eight are $180. Charitable gifts to sponsor seats for students are$25 each.

Other Historical Society board members include Ella Cox, Dianne Fulton, Linda Farmer Hawkins, Elaine Patterson Miller, Sue Houston, Brenda Lanier, Tippy Sanford, Maxine Mosley West, Jan and Joe Pullen, Cynthia Hubler, Sharon and Ron Stephens, and Rosita Chevremont McCamey.


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